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No-knead bread emergency

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  • Fiona Mar 5, 2010 01:19 PM
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I am making the no-knead bread from Mark Bittman's cookbook for the first time. It has been resting for almost 18 hours and there are no bubbles. Shound I wait some more, toss it, do something else. My kitchen is pretty chilly but I have turned on an electric space heater to warm up the room. HELP!

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  1. did you proof the yeast before adding to the dough mix? or did you throw it in with the dry ingredients and just add the liquids? the yeast might be dead...

    2 Replies
    1. re: currentlycraving

      No I didn't proof the yeast - it has been years since I made yeast bread and forgot about that - Duh! I did take the dough and handle it - it looks feels and smells like sloppy bread dough so I am proceeding apace. I will report back. Thanks

      1. re: Fiona

        You don't need to proof the yeast but after 18 hours, you should see the yeast doing something to the dough. Does it look the same as when it started? If you have yeast from the same batch, you could proof it now to see if it's okay.

    2. I just made this the other day for the first time. After 12 hours, my dough looked like it was alive - I could almost see it heaving even using just the small bit of yeast required.

      Perhaps the other posters are right, and your yeast expired. (I get mine in bulk and keep it in the freezer - which helps keep it fresh IMHO.)

      1. I live in a rather chilly house and have found that proofing on top of my fridge is the only place I get results.

        7 Replies
        1. re: just_M

          If you've got no bubbles in that long a time, the yeast is dead. Don't toss it, just buy some good yeast, stir that in, and start anew.

          If it's going to be a while before you can get new yeast, park the bowl in the refrigerator.in the meantime and expect a slightly longer first rising time because of the cold start.

          1. re: sfmiller

            Yep. Totally agreed. I stick my bread on top of the dryer or in the bathroom when I shower or on top of the stove when cooking. My house is like a fridge. If you are in a hurry. Oven on warm, turn it off, plunk bread in. Then every so often switch on the oven for a few minutes and back off again. I am, sure someone will object to that., but if time is of the essence...

            1. re: Sal Vanilla

              When you live in a chilly house you do what you got to do, ha :-) Anywho, I've found that a good way to check different locations is to put a stick of butter on a plate or bowl in the location, if it gets spreadable soft it should work for yeast. Just my guess.

              1. re: just_M

                What a fantabulous idea with the butter.

                You can also stick it under a light like on your desk. Very easy bake ovenesque.

              2. re: Sal Vanilla

                CI recommends putting a pizza stone or something else that will hold heat like cast iron in and turning it on 200 for 10 minutes. Turn it off, put in dough.

                1. re: chowser

                  Yep. That is a great rec. I have quarry tiles at the bottom of my oven. They hold lots of heat. Thanks Chowser.

                  1. re: Sal Vanilla

                    And then there are the people who incubate? yogurt in an ice chest or the like with a heating pad set to low. Never tried it myself but proofing could be another ap
                    .

          2. Perhaps your yeast was dead.

            But I wonder if you were using the wrong kind of yeast. The Bittman recipe calls for instant yeast and calls for you to add it directly to the dry ingredients without proofing in water first. You can do that with instant yeast. You shouldn't do that with active dry yeast which should be dissolved in water first, usually with some sugar.

            I was wondering about this myself because I made some pizza dough last week with a recipe that called for you to add the dry yeast to the other dry ingredients without dissolving and proofing first. I have both instant and active dry yeast on my shelf and I think I grabbed the active dry yeast. And my dough didn't rise like it had in the past. The yeast was relatively new and should have still been good. So I think I just used the wrong kind.

            This whole yeast thing is confusing, as this post says about the different kinds.

            http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/2815...

            I'd try it again with the instant dry yeast. Knowing it is called (very unfortunately) different things by different makers. Look for a kind that can go directly into the other dry ingredients without being first dissolved.

            1. I agree with what others have said. you should be using instant yeast and that does not need to be proofed. How cold is your kitchen/how cold was the water you put in?

              1 Reply
              1. re: white light

                It is really a problem that different makers call the different kinds of yeast different things. So, for example, I have two kinds of dry yeast on my shelf now: Fleischman's "active dry" yeast and Fleishman's "RapidRise" yeast. The RapidRise package is what Bittman would call "instant yeast" but it doesn't say that anywhere on the package.

                I can never remember which kind is which and what is called what. After my recent pizza dough fiasco, what I am going to do is first look at my recipe to see if it calls for proofing with water or see if it goes directly into the dry ingredients. Then I am going to look at the yeast package and ask the same question: does it call for proofing or going directly into the dry ingredients.

                I think this will be an easy way for me to keep this straight.

              2. I don't know the Bittman recipe or exactly what type of bread you're making, but--
                I make Jim Lahey's no-knead bread often. I use a tiny bit (1/4 tsp to 1/2 tsp) depending on recipe) of regular active dry, not instant, added right into the dry ingredients, not proofed, and then it is mixed w/cool water. The recipe calls for an 18-hour rise. FWIW, I made it a few times when it was unusually cold here, and so was my old and drafty house. Twice I found that after 18 hours, hardly anything was happening. So I let it rise for 22 once and another time almost 24 hours. In both cases,although it was somewhat more difficult to turn out from the bowl and the dough spread out further, the finished loaves turned out fine.

                But I do also store my yeast in the freezer.

                4 Replies
                1. re: nomadchowwoman

                  Lahey's recipe calls for instant yeast, not active dry. That's the recipe Bittman adapted a bit and popularized.

                  If you're getting good results, what the heck. Maybe OP was having a different problem.

                  But it's the instant that is not supposed to need proofing, as opposed to the active dry.

                  And too, the dough for this recipe may not rise that much.

                  Fiona -- have you baked your dough yet? And how did it turn out?

                  1. re: karykat

                    I made this bread recipe for a year with great success without knowing I was using the "wrong" yeast. I don't think there's it's all that critical to the sucess of this particular recipe.

                    1. re: karykat

                      Actually, the recipe(s) in Lahey's book call for "instant or other active dry yeast." I've always used Fleischmann's active dry yeast, no proofing, and have never failed at one of the recipes in Lahey's "My Bread" (and i had been failing at bread making for 20+ years).

                      Believe me, I was skeptical at first, but what was so great about having the book are the photos of each stage of the process--b/c the process is counterintuitive: how the dough looks and acts in Lahey's method is quite different from that of traditional bread making.

                    2. re: nomadchowwoman

                      Active yeast is fine but as you found, takes a lot longer to rise. But, the longer rise gives more texture and flavor so if you have the time, it's a good way to go.

                    3. I have made this recipe at least 100 times and I have to let the dough go 24 hours in the winter, 12 in the summer. Kitchen temperature matters alot with the tiny amount of yeast. Like Just M says, try proofing it on top of your refrigerator. I know other people who have to do this.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: runwestierun

                        Hmmmm. Maybe it just doesn't matter.